by Elizabeth Goers
When it comes to college golf, the fall season is a time of preparation for the spring. For sophomore Irish golfer Katie Brophy, this fall will hopefully be a time for adding to the success that she experienced last season as a freshman.
In the fall of 2002, Brophy ranked second on the team with a stroke average of 78.89. She built on her great fall performance by winning the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational in March. Later, Brophy finished the ’02-’03 season on a high note, earning co-medalist honors at the BIG EAST Conference Championship, held at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course. As Brophy begins play this fall, her main goal is to continue having solid performances on the course.
“I hope to play well and place really high in every tournament,” Brophy says. “I am just going to play the best I can, like always.”
Brophy, though, was more excited for the team last year and feels the same entering this season. The Spokane, Wash., native and her teammates are ready to show the rest of the nation that the Irish are legitimate contenders.
“As a team, we hope to score in at least the top half of every tournament,” Brophy comments.
“We really want to impress a lot of schools, for them to be taken aback. We want them to say, ‘Whoa, Notre Dame is coming up.'”
The Irish are playing in a total of six tournaments this fall. The team opened the season in impressive fashion, winning the Cougar Classic Sept. 16 by shooting a school-record for 54 holes, 25-over par 889 (285-304-300). Brophy contributed to the team’s success by firing a career-low score of seven-over par 223 (74-73-76), placing her in a tie for seventh place. That was good enough to earn her a ranking of 29th in the nation in the latest Golfweek individual ratings.
The Irish next finished in a tie for sixth place at the Mary Fossum Invitational at Michigan State University on Sept. 21. With its two sharp early-season showings, Notre Dame has vaulted to fourth in the nation in the Golfweek poll, the highest ranking in team history.
Notre Dame will conclude its fall season at the Edwin Watts/Palmetto Classic, November 3-4, in Charleston, S.C. Following the tournament, the women will start winter workouts. Brophy and her teammates will work on their games in Loftus Sports Center three mornings a week and, weather permitting, go to a driving range outside twice a week. Brophy appreciates the significance of taking part in winter workouts.
“It’s a good time to make your game real sound,” Brophy says.
“The winter is important because we can work on our short game and putting strokes – the technical aspects of our game.”
Over the summer, Brophy worked on her own as well. She played in two major tournaments; one overseas at St. Andrew’s Golf Course in Scotland and the other was the United States Women Amateur in Philadelphia, PA.
“The summer was really cool for me,” the sophomore recalls.
“Along with two of my teammates, Karen (Lotta) and Sarah (Bassett), I played in a tournament up in Scotland at St. Andrew’s. There were girls playing there from all over the world. I played well and placed 10th out of sixty-some golfers. The highlight of my summer, though, was the United States Women’s Amateur. It was an amazing experience. I played against Michelle Wie and the rest of the best non-professional golfers around.”
Playing at the United States Women’s Amateur Championship helped Brophy improve her drive of the ball. She saw a trainer at the tournament and he gave her some new stretches to do regularly. Brophy has stretched diligently throughout the summer since the tournament and she is also doing yoga a few days a week with the team. She claims it has improved her game; she is now consistently driving the ball at about 260 yards off the tee.
“My long game right now is really good,” Brophy declares.
“I’ve been hitting a lot of balls since I have been back at school. My short game is coming around, too, and I’m really excited to have them both on at the same time.”
Of course, with these marked improvements and past success, people are expecting a lot from Brophy. She refuses, however, to let such expectations faze her. Instead, Brophy is just focused on enjoying her time with the Irish.
“I think it’s all in the pressure you put on yourself,” Brophy says.
“If you let the pressure from other people get to you, then you are going to make every single shot a big deal. It’s really important to stay focused, not worry about what other people are thinking. I try to keep everything in prospective and realize that I am very fortunate to playing golf at Notre Dame. I am such a lucky person to be a member of a golf team that’s improving and progressing towards something great. I just want to play the best I can, and have a great year with my team.”